And while the compactness and convenience of ebooks is often emphasised, sometimes less widely appreciated is their accessibility - the ability to greatly enlarge font size and the audio feature for listening to most ebooks. Furthermore their light weight makes them very portable.
What are ebooks and ebook 'Readers'? An ebook is simply a book converted to electronic format and the Reader a handheld device enabling the user to read ebooks on its screen. ebooks owe their existence to the invention of electronic ink and paper. Unlike a computer monitor, e-paper reflects light. To make the page even easier to read, covers with lights to illuminate the screen are available as accessories with, for example, the Kindle.
How do I buy ebooks? With a capacity to store thousands of titles, ebooks allow you to travel light. Loading an ebook onto your Reader is simple. You buy the ebook at an online store – and there are numerous ebook retailers. They will send it via your wi-fi connection direct to your ebook. The Kindle 3G + Wi-Fi is an example of a Reader that will download ebooks anywhere, without the need for external wi-fi. You just need a mobile phone connection and to be in a country where the service exists.
What are the options? There are several alternatives to the Kindle. Sony produces the PRS line of ebook Readers - and iPodtouch or iPhone users already own an ebook Reader. You will need an app such as Stanza or Bookshelf, opening up access to free ebooks.
The PlayStation Portable meanwhile features an ebook reader of its own.
A further alternative is the T-Mobile G1 Android phone, allowing access to Google’s Book Search mobile edition.
Readers can sync with computers You can load your existing talking book collection onto your ebook Reader, which should possess a feature of its own to convert text to speech. Be aware that a computerised voice will result, unlike a standard talking book read by an actor. Readers of course come equipped with an earphone socket.
Can I read periodicals too? Absolutely. ebook Readers can download copies of many newspapers and magazines. Normally you will have to pay a subscription.
Now outstripping sales of paperbacks in the US, ebooks are expected to rise sharply from the present level of around 15% of the book market in the UK.
So if projections are correct, it may not be long before more people on the train or bus are staring at their e-reader screens instead of reading a paperback or a newspaper.
The “Kindle with Special Offers” is set to launch in the US on May 3 at around £15 cheaper than the Kindle Wi-Fi. It is expected to be available in the UK at an as yet unspecified date.
Please check your chosen brand and model possesses the desired features before making any purchase.
This article was written by Andrew Stucken, and published on April 26, 2011. The opinions are the author's own and for general information only. Always seek independent professional advice. Details accurate at time of publication.